In a decision announced by the Supreme Court on Thursday, the judges determined that the federal subsidies for Alaska and other states that opted for federally run health care markets were legal.
It was determined by a 6-3 vote that it was legal for the 34 states that chose to have the federal government run their health care to receive federal subsidies for their health plan. This despite the fact that the law appeared to say that the subsidies were available for only those 16 states and the District of Columbia that opted to establish their own health insurance exchanges.
In Alaska, the Supreme Court ruling means that approximately 16,000 people will have access to the subsidities and will not have to face rates that have risen over 500%.
The plaintiffs in the case, all from the state of Virginia, sued the Obama administration saying that the law forbid subsidies for states that did not opt for their own health care insurance exchanges and that the U.S. Congress worded it that way to encourage states to create their own.
In all, nation-wide the ruling affects roughly 6.4 million people.
In Alaska, Governor Walker was happy to hear that the ruling was in favor of the defendant in the King v. Burwell case, and was pleased that over $1 billion in new federal revenue would be brought into the state in the first six years and provide health care coverage for nearly 42,000 Alaskans. In a press release he said, “We are pleased so many of our friends, family and neighbors will be able to continue to receive health care, now it’s important that we continue to work toward Medicaid expansion, so more Alaskans can receive the health coverage they need.”
Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services also responded positively to the ruling, “We applaud the court’s decision, which will allow thousands of Alaskans to continue to receive affordable health care.”
“Without the federal subsidy, many of the nearly 19,000 Alaskans who receive the credit would likely have discontinued their coverage, leaving them uninsured,” said Lori Wing-Heier, director of the Division of Insurance. “We are relieved that the Supreme Court’s ruling safeguards thousands of Alaskans’ access to affordable health care insurance.”
Once again, Alaska’s Republican lawmakers came out against Affordable Health Care and the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Representative Don Young said in a statement, “I ultimately believe the Supreme Court made the wrong choice in this ruling, but that is their decision to make. I will continue to work with my colleagues to repeal this law and replace it with patient-centered reforms that allow for freedom and flexibility. Congress has a responsibility to ensure the American people receive relief from this overbearing law and its ever-growing list of broken promises. There’s no question, we will continue to chip away at its many negative consequences that are harming families, small businesses and patients.”
Senior Senator, Lisa Murkowski also made a statement after the ruling, stating, “From day one, the political document called the Affordable Care Act has been a steady stream of mistakes, glitches and broken promises. The fact that the law survived this legal challenge doesn’t change the basic reality that Alaskans continue to face the highest health cost care in the country. Since passage of the law, we have seen harmful, costly premium increases – 38 percent for Premera and 30 percent for MODA next year alone. All today’s ruling means is that over 16,000 Alaskans who did everything the law required won’t be punished for the shortcomings of this unworkable policy.
“The President has made 32 unilateral changes or delays to this law to suit his political needs. Nationally, only 11 percent of Americans see this law as succeeding; in Alaska, we continue to see the promise of affordable care move further and further away as our costs skyrocket. I stand ready to work with anyone on either side of the aisle to deliver true health care reform that cuts costs, increases the availability of care, doesn’t hurt small businesses or their employees, and best serves a high-risk, high cost state like Alaska.”
Alaska’s newest Senator, Republican Dan Sullivan said, “From its inception, ObamaCare has been a catastrophe. It has failed to deliver on the promises made by its supporters, particularly in Alaska. Premiums for Alaskans are skyrocketing. Many are facing insurance rate-increases of up to 38 percent next year. Thousands have lost their plans and have lost their doctors. Quality of care has decreased. Insurance companies are leaving the state, and when the so-called “Cadillac Tax” kicks in, thousands of Alaskan workers will be paying even more in taxes. In short, ObamaCare, or as Supreme Court Justice Scalia called it, ‘Scotuscare,’ has been a disaster for Alaska. Therefore, I am extremely disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision. I, and my colleagues in the Senate, remain committed to repealing this disastrous law and replacing it with patient-centered reforms.”
At the White House the tone was very different. “Five years ago, after nearly a century of talk, decades of trying, a year of bipartisan debate, we finally declared that in America, health care is not a privilege for a few but a right for all,” Obama stated in the Rose Garden. “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.” “Five years in, this is no longer about a law,” he continued. “This is not about the Affordable Care Act as legislation or Obamacare as a political football. This is health care in America.”
Despite Republican railings against what they term as Obamacare, today’s Supreme Court decision is also a win for them, allowing them to continue to come out against the Affordable Care Act in campaigns and stances. But, at the same time the ruling allows them to kick healthcare further down the road without having to come up with an alternate solution.